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Following Atlanta City Council talks, rule changes afoot for dockless bikes, scooters

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Also discussed: creating an “affordable” option for people without a means of using shareable bikes and scooters

Bird patrons enjoy a leisurely, motorized scoot on the Beltline’s Westside Trail recently.
Suggestions for an Atlanta City Council ordinance proposal say shareable scooters should have the same rights as bikes, which could include legal Beltline access.
Curbed Atlanta

It appears that shareable dockless scooters might get the Atlanta City Council green light to (legally) travel the city’s multi-use trails.

Last week, the council’s Public Safety and Transportation Committee hosted a work session to again discuss the possible regulations that could be imposed on the bike, moped, and scooter-sharing businesses that have recently inundated city streets.

Led by chairmen councilmembers Dustin Hillis and Andre Dickens, the committee has taken into account the suggestions of stakeholders from organizations such as MARTA, PEDS, and CylceHop (operator of Relay Bike Share).

Among other particulars of recently proposed legislation to oversee vehicle-sharing operations, the groups discussed how to define mobility devices, how and where the vehicles can be driven and parked, and how many can be stationed around town.

The committee recommended shareable bikes and scooters—it’s not clear how councilmembers aim to address Muving mopeds—be allowed to operate anywhere that personal bicycles can, according to an Atlanta City Council report.

Whether Beltline officials intend to repeal the path’s motorized vehicle ban is still unknown, however.

For electric rides, city officials suggest creating speed caps, although some technically already exist for motorized bikes; 20 mph is the speed limit.

The committee is also urging the council to establish minimum and maximum fleet sizes, which would have to be heeded by all vehicle-share operators.

Also, the legislation could be amended to “... empower the Director of the Office of Mobility Planning to adjust permitted fleet sizes (applies to all operators) based on need, total number of devices deployed, usage, and other criteria in administrative regulations,” per the report.

When it comes to parking mobility devices, the committee suggested, patrons should find a bike rack or park in “furniture zones”—parts of sidewalks usually used for street-side seating or decorative fixtures.

The furniture zone is shown to the left of the bike lane.
National Association of City Transportation Officials

If passed as suggested, the ordinance would also “require operators to develop a plan for how they will incentivize customers to park safely.”

It could also enable the city to geocode certain areas as on- or off-limits for dockless vehicle parking—and to impound vehicles when left in restricted zones.

“The city may dispose of devices if unclaimed by the operator after 10 days,” the work session’s notes say.

A photo of a man riding a Bird scooter on the highway
Can city regulations stop this kind of behavior?
Travis Salters/Emily Hoberman, via Atlanta City Council Twitter

In addition to trying to ensure these hotly in-demand vehicles are used safely, the committee aims to push for equitable operations, meaning the city might “encourage vendors to hire, train, and team with local residents and businesses.”

Another recommendation lobbed during the meeting teased the possibility of creating “affordable” options for people who don’t have smartphones or credit cards, which are currently needed to boot up most rides.